Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Old foes ready to rumble Gerula catches a break

Former champ gets title shot in Edmonton as fill-in fighter

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Olivia (The Predator) Gerula is on the prowl for a new title.

With promoter/trainer John Vernaus in her corner, Gerula will take on Jelena Mrdjenovich on Friday at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton for the vacant Women's International Boxing Association (WIBA) featherweight title.

"Olivia is great shape and she's hitting a lot harder than when I last trained her (in 2010) and she (Gerula) has beat her before," Vernaus said.

"This is an international title. Mrdjenovich is ranked No. 1 so she (Gerula) will take over her ranking and be ranked No. 1 again. Once you get that rank, it's easier to get fights."

Gerula and Mrdjenovich last met in 2009 when Gerula beat Mrdjenovich to claim the WBC female super featherweight title in unanimous decision in Edmonton.

Gerula, 32, went on to successfully defend the WBC title twice and lost it. Most recently, Gerula failed to regain the WBC title in a rematch with Frida Wallberg last September in Karlstad, Sweden.

"It's another title shot and honestly, I'm coming off two hard losses. Jelena and I have a history, she beat me in '04 and I beat her in '09.

"We both know it could go either way but I would never take a fight that I wasn't prepared to win," said Gerula in a telephone interview from Edmonton on Wednesday.

She will fight at 126 pounds in the featherweight category instead of 130 pounds in the super featherweight.

"The opportunity is that there's a title on the line and absolutely, when I accepted it, I thought, 'Oh my, I leave in a week!' " she said.

"Your last week of training is when you usually lighten up a bit and work out the bugs but I've had to go hard. I'm actually going in with a shiner (black eye)!"

Vernaus said Friday's WIBA fight came up suddenly when Mrdjenovich's opponent backed out but Gerula was able to take it because of her consistent training.

"Olivia always stays in great shape," Vernaus said. "I told her we were going to put a fight on in January so she was keeping in shape for that but then this came up. She's been sparring 12 rounds already. She looks good."

Vernaus said Gerula will have a new game plan going into the fight.

"We want her to do things a little different, move to the side a bit more, not be a target, and to not smother her punches so she gets the power behind it a bit more," Vernaus said.

"Change up the rounds. Don't go out hard at the beginning of every round, you mix that up so you're not too predictable."

Vernaus said Mrdjenovich is a good fighter with a decent left hook but Gerula has more power.

"I feel good about this fight for her, I'll be in there with her, and I want to see Olivia just go out there and just smash this fighter," Vernaus said.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2011 C6

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